“I want to have a baby. I just don’t want to become a mum.”
Riffing on the trifecta of unwritten goals we all are assumed to be signed up to by society – “married, house, baby, done” – new romantic comedy Baby Done takes a refreshing new slant on the prospect of motherhood with wit and charm.
With an authentically written script and delivery provided by screenwriter and director couple – Sophie Henderson and Curtis Vowell – and the brilliantly deadpan Kiwi comedian Rose Matafeo in the lead as our parenthood sceptic, the film brings many a truthful moment, whether cringeworthy, hilarious or surprisingly touching. The movie also has Taika Waititi on as executive producer and a host of faces from the Kiwi comedy circuit making appearances.
Matafeo’s Zoe is not the expectant mother we are used to seeing on screen: here her and her partner’s roles (Tim, played by the affable Matthew Lewis) are gender-reversed, as Zoe freaks out about becoming yet another insufferable parent, losing her identity and the bizarre reality of having a mini human growing inside her while Tim is a dedicated antenatal class attendee.
As an adventurous tree surgeon, Zoe rails against the idea she overnight should become physically incompetent and no longer “herself” but purely a self-sacrificial mother. And to want or do otherwise should be a source of guilt and shame.
From mini baby figurines in ice cubes at a baby shower on steroids, Matafeo trapped under a toilet door by her bump and an excruciatingly fumbled threesome, the film isn’t afraid to take the piss out of our fetishisation of parenthood and smash taboos through humour.
Having just become a mother myself, there were probably more moments in Baby Done I’d care to admit that rung true, which is rare to see represented. While first and foremost the movie’s in it for the laughs, it also surreptitiously raises the point that we need more honest reflections on becoming a parent on screen and on social media.
Matafeo has had a meteoric rise to comedy fame since winning at the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2018 and touring her excellent Horndog musing on the concept of horniness while channeling millennial anxiety, which is now being shown on BBC 3 (I caught it at Soho Theatre a few years back – can highly recommend). With this role under her belt, a regular face on the TV circuit and a new show Starstruck on its way, her rise as a “voice of millennials” comic shows no signs of slowing.
We chatted with Matafeo over Zoom about working with the writer and director, what she brought from her comedy talent to the role and why some of the reactions to the film demonstrate our need to talk more honestly about motherhood.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 23rd February 2021.
Baby Done is released digitally on demand and on DVD on 22nd January 2021.
Horndog airs on BBC One Wednesday 24th February at 10.45pm, and it’s available on BBC Three iPlayer from 21st February 2021.